Consumer Credit Counseling Service

Consumer Credit Counseling Service

Legitimate consumer credit counseling services are not easy to find, as many of them have come under public wrath of late. A common criticism about credit counseling is that participating in such a plan ruins a consumer’s credit which also has led to charges that credit counseling is a marketing gimmick the lending industry makes use of. Probably it is for this reason the experts opine that credit counseling is ineffective. But one must not forget that credit counseling is not the same as debt consolidation.

In the forefront is the Christian credit counseling which is making a difference in this field not just by demonstrating genuine intentions but also by offering credit counseling in an affordable way to consumers. It helps consumers take steps to improve their credit.

A consumer credit counseling service has the goal educating debtors of different consolidation ways. Of which the secured debt credit is the one with which you can avoid unnecessary additional clerical costs and also prevent legal actions against you. In short credit counseling is designed to persons who are neck deep in debt.

The Statutory Bindings

If you are looking for information on nonprofit credit counseling agency Christian credit counseling is your natural first choice. Like all nonprofit organizations they have an obligation to educate and counsel the needy people. All nonprofit credit counseling agencies are bound by nonprofit corporation statutes and comply with state charitable solicitation laws. This is why nonprofit credit counseling agencies provide free services or at least charge minimal fees to recover their cost. It helps to keep in mind that appropriate Federal and Senate committees have taken cognizance of the profitable nature of some of the nonprofit credit counseling agencies.

In fact, for more than five decades now, nonprofit credit counseling organizations are helping consumers. Those providing assistance to consumers credit counseling and debt management services must keep your private information confidential. Rules are put in place to limit the fees a nonprofit credit counseling firm charge their clients. Californian licensed nonprofit credit counseling firms must file their financials with the statutory agencies regularly.

However, some community credit counseling services are setting precedence and are taking their services beyond expectations. If you act sensibly you can actually get free counseling and debt consolidation advice from them.

Here Are Some Helpful Steps

List out all community based and nonprofit credit counseling services.
Checkout their accreditations and business histories through their websites and testimonials.
Talk to them before signing any documents.
Don’t leave anything to ambiguity; get their and your obligations in writing.
Take help from The National Foundation for Credit Counseling for researching about some credit counseling organization.

You must always remember, at the back of your mind that, credit counseling is a legal and ethical alternative to file bankruptcy. In any case, credit counseling is a viable option before meeting a bankruptcy attorney. For an industry having more than its share of questionable reputation, at least this is the only way out. In addition, for those consumer credit counseling agencies in the for-profit side of the industry, the problem is that the fees are rather too high and typically take long times to clear off the debt. However, the bottom line is credit counseling is still best if you want a total makeover of your finances.

The HUD Credit-Counseling Requirement of the “Making Home Affordable” Plan

Introduction

The portion of the Treasury Department’s Making Home Affordable Plan (implemented on March 4, 2009, please see earlier article summarizing this Plan) regarding plan participants with high “back end” debt (defined as other debt in addition to your mortgage debt, such as credit cards.) Homeowners in this category, to receive the benefit of a mortgage modification or refinance, must participate in HUD-approved credit-counseling.

This article pertains to situations where borrowers qualify for the portion of the mortgage modification program or mortgage refinance program for homeowners with high back end debt and therefore must participate in mandatory HUD counseling. This article discusses the qualification requirements for this prong of the mortgage modification program as well as the counseling requirements required under this prong.

Credit Counseling and High Back End Debt

Borrowers with high “back end” debt (housing payment, credit cards, and car payment) will have to undergo mandatory credit-counseling to receive a mortgage modification under the Plan. However, under the loan modification prong of the Plan, there is a specific program available for borrowers with high back end debt. Under the Plan, borrowers with back end debt exceeding 55% of their income could be eligible for a loan modification, if they also participate in a HUD-approved credit counseling program.

Generally, if you have less than 20% equity in your current home and your equity has been reduced as a result market conditions, you are among the target group of homeowners at which the Plain is aimed. If your income has declined or your mortgage payment has increased to more than 31% of your gross income (all income before taxes), you also generally meet the guidelines to receive a temporary, five-year reduction in mortgage payment , as well as significant incentives for successful participation in the program.

To be clear and avoid scams, there are no closing costs or fees of any kind for participating in the mortgage modification program or the refinance program for Fannie and Freddie Mae mortgages. You should, to the extent possible deal directly with your lender and you should be aware of and avoid any kind of scheme where a broker might try to charge you fees to participate in this program.

For example, among other incentives, homeowners qualifying for and participating in the mortgage modification program qualify for an initial cash payment of $1500, as well as a $1,000 reduction applied to the loan principle for five years. For more exact breakdown of the incentives available to borrowers, lenders and servicers under the Plan, please see my prior article detailing the entire plan. For the purpose of this article, I will be focus primarily on the credit counseling requirements.

How the Credit Counseling Will Work

Credit counseling agencies nationwide must certify themselves as HUD counselors and can then provide the required counseling under the Mortgage Modification Plan. The Treasury has issued some general information to credit counselors to begin implementation of the Plan. The following is a breakdown of the information provided to credit counselors thus far. For example, the Treasury advises credit counselors that if they are already working on a modification plan to benefit a borrower, they must now first consider whether modification under the Plan may be more beneficial to the homeowner.

When a credit counselor determines that a homeowner does not qualify for a mortgage modification under the Plan, the counseling agency is supposed to discuss all loss mitigation options, including loan modification scenarios outside the Plan and opportunities to refinance or access to available local resources such as rescue grants and loans. If it is impossible to work out a deal to keep the homeowner in the home, the counseling agency should discuss short sales and deeds in lieu of foreclosure as ways to help a borrower transition to more affordable housing.

Treasury advises credit counselors that one of the important components of the Making Home Affordable program is community stabilization. Treasury views short sales and deeds in lieu of foreclosure as options that minimize the impact of vacant and abandoned propertied on communities. Counseling agencies are presumably required to inform participating loan servicers that they could be eligible for an incentive of $500 and can make reimbursable payment of up to $1000 to extinguish other liens. Borrowers in this situation are eligible for a payment of $1500 in relocation expenses in order to effectuate short sales and deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure.

Although all delinquent borrowers are encouraged to seek the advice of a HUD-approved counselor, only borrowers with a back-end debt-to-income ratio at or above 55% must certify that they will participate in counseling as a condition of a modification under the Making Home Affordable Program.

Level of Counseling

Borrowers required to participate in mandatory credit counseling must agree to meet with a counselor from a HUD-approved housing counseling agency or a National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling Program (or NFMC, was launched in December 2007 with funds appropriated by Congress to increase the availability of foreclosure counseling services across the country) participating agency to create an action plan that includes steps and a time line to eliminate unnecessary debt, minimize expenses, increase income and create savings. The action plan requires the borrower to establish a follow-up schedule with the counselor. The program generally requires that the borrower have two mandatory sessions with a HUD-certified credit counselor.

Counseling Referrals

The Treasury allows a credit counselors to make referrals to specific servicers if the borrow contacts the credit counseling agency and it is determined that the borrower may be eligible for a Home Affordable Modification, the counselor must work with the borrower to submit an intake package to the servicer. To be eligible for compensation, the counseling must conform to Level 3 counseling requirements, as established by the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling (NFMC) Program, including some additional requirements detailed in the counseling protocol on the NFMC website.

Counseling Fees

NFCM Program funds and HUD Housing Counseling Grant funds can be used to pay counseling agencies for counseling provided to borrowers with back-end debt-to-income ratios greater than 55% and for counseling borrowers who are referred to servicers. TARP funds cannot be used to pay for housing counseling. Because the loan modification program is supported by TARP funds, there are no direct financial provisions for fees to be paid by the Making Home Affordable program to counselors.

NFMC Program reimbursement for the required counseling will be set at a new Level 4 fixed price pending available resources. Other counseling will be reimbursed at the current fixed price for Level 3 counseling as established in each organization’s existing NFMC Program grant agreement. HUD Housing Counseling grant recipients may request reimbursement for the actual, document cost of counseling up to the amount available under the grantee’s counseling award. If a portion of the counseling has been reimbursed by NFMC, HUD Housing Counseling grant recipients may bill against their HUD Counseling grant actual costs not covered by the fixed price NFMC reimbursement, up to the amount available under the grantee’s counseling award.

Counseling agencies that do not receive NFCM Program funding or HUD housing counseling grant funding are encouraged to provide counseling through other funding sources. For example, servicers can pay for this counseling. If a housing counseling agency participating in HUD’s Housing Counseling Program or the NFMC Program does not have sufficient resources, they are not required to provide this counseling, but must make a reasonable effort to refer borrowers to counseling agencies that can assist them.

Conclusion

Under Obama’s new Making Home Affordable Act, potential Plan participants with high “back end” debt, will be required to undergo HUD-certified credit counseling as a condition of their participation in the program.

This article was written using only government HUD and Treasury documents. All analysis is original to this author.

Jim Tily is a legal researcher specializing in real estate law.

Currently, there is a widespread lack of information and confusion regarding the program described in this article.

There is a useful website where you can use an interactive form to determine if you are eligible.

[http://homeaffordplan.com] bridges the information gap by offering a general summary that is both abstract but complete and substantive, and offers the only form currently available to the public which allows them to determine, based on the dollar amounts specific to their situation, exactly what they are eligible for.

Credit Counseling FAQs

Epic Debt Relief is a debt settlement company, not a credit counseling agency. As such, the following information is strictly for educational purposes and not representative of any of the services that are offered at Epic Debt Relief. This information should serve to demonstrate which types of debt services are best for the customer’s needs, and nothing else.

What is Credit Counseling?

Credit counseling is a service that is very different from debt settlement. Customers will make payments to the counseling agency on a monthly basis. Their payments are then distributed to the creditors based on the plan set up between the consumer and the credit counseling agency. These plans generally last up to 5 years, and the interest rates will be lower than what consumers are used to paying for their credit cards. The savings can be larger because of the reduced interest rates, and counseling is also offered to help with budgeting, spending, and debt.

What is involved in the process?

When a consumer goes to credit counseling, they will work together to determine a monthly payment based on the amount of debt that the consumer has and the creditors that are owed. Consumers sign up with the credit counseling agency and then send the monthly payments to the agency. The agency then negotiates lower interest rates when and where they can, and make the payments to the creditors. However, it is entirely possible that some creditors will not give lower rates or participate in the programs.

What’s the cost of credit counseling?

Every state, company, and individual situation will affect the cost of credit counseling services. Some states have specific regulations about fees and charges, and if you have a lot of debt or creditors you will likely pay more than most people. Set up fees average around $50 while monthly fees for being a member are around $30-$40. These fees are often low simply because your creditors will give part of your payments back to the counseling agency. If a company tries to take your money right away, you might want to avoid them because they’re probably not the best choice in companies to work with.

What about non-profit companies?

There are some credit counseling services that are not-for-profit, but not all of them. There are many companies that operated in the past as non-profit that have lost their tax exempt status because they were found to be partially profitable. However, most non-profit companies will still charge you fees for their services unless you are in a financial situation where payment is not an option.

Does this mean that non-profit services are regulated by the government?

No, they just have tax issues to consider for their non-profit operations. Many of the non-profits that exist are neutral and will attempt to be impartial when assessing your needs. Some companies, for profit or not, will still have a vested interest in signing up consumers regardless of their situation simply for the fees that they will earn.

What about Epic Debt Relief? How does it compare to counseling?

Epic Debt Relief offers services to people who legitimately have issues with paying off their debts and who cannot afford to make payments on their own. Credit counseling is designed more for those people who have budgeting and spending problems and can afford their bills, but just have put themselves into a bad situation. If your main issue comes in avoiding calls and negotiating interest rates, credit counseling is the better choice because it will have a smaller impact on credit scores. Debt negotiation, however, is a little more serious but is designed for those people who are serious about their debt settlement options and have nowhere left to turn.

What is the downside to credit counseling, and does it affect my credit?

Yes and no. If your bills are up to date, you’ll have a negative effect on your credit for using the services, but if you are behind, using counseling to catch up payments looks good in most cases. Keep in mind that debt settlement and payment plans don’t actually impact your credit score, but they will affect your report when lenders see reported on there that you worked with credit counseling and/or debt settlement. Credit counseling also doesn’t lower monthly payments enough for some people, which is what they need in the first place. Since you’re not settling debt, you have to rely on the counseling company to make your payments on time each month, and if they don’t your interest rate might go right back up. The final downside to credit counseling is that not all creditors participate. This is something that you don’t find out until the agency tries to make payments to them, and then the account will be considered past due because they didn’t get the payments from the counseling service because they don’t participate.

Credit Counseling Lies Exposed – The Shocking Whole Truth Credit Counselors Don’t Want You to Know

You’re deeply in debt, wondering which way to turn. You’re confused, worried, and so stressed out you can’t think straight. What do you do?

Many people mistakenly turn to credit counselors. Often people struggling with serious debt make the dangerous assumption credit counselors are “the good guys” because they advertise being “not-for-profit”. Other times debtors lured by the debt management companies believe a common “half-truth” (out-right lie) promoted by the credit reporting agencies and credit counselors alike about how such debt consolidation programs affect your credit. Do you know how your credit may be affected?

Before we look at the truth behind these deceptive claims, let’s clear up the terminology and eliminate any confusion.

You see, “Consumer Credit Counseling Services” goes by many names… but ALL of these different names are really the same thing. These many names include credit counseling, CCCS, debt consolidation, debt consolidation plan, debt consolidation program, debt management plan, DMP, debt management program, and of course the infamous “Non-Profit” Credit Counseling Program.

The Truth About How Credit Counseling Affects Your Credit

While enrollment in Consumer Credit Counseling Services no longer affects your numerical credit “score”*, being enrolled in “CCCS” has a VERY DAMAGING impact on your credit “worthiness.” Credit worthiness is your ability to get a loan.

(* This is assuming that the credit counseling agency actually makes your payments on time – which is often NOT the case, as many, many people who have mistakenly enrolled in such debt management plans report.)

Why does enrollment have such a damaging affect on your credit worthiness?

· Statistics show it’s most likely that you will never complete your debt management plan and will most likely file bankruptcy instead.

· Some statistics report 7 out of 10 people who enroll into debt management plans fail to get out of debt.

Just ask ANY mortgage lender in the country…

When pulling your credit report, EVERY ACCOUNT included in your “debt management plan” is listed just as a bankruptcy would be, with a notice under each account saying something similar to:

“THIS ACCOUNT IS INCLUDED IN CONSUMER CREDIT COUNSELING SERVICES”

This means big trouble for you. Lenders call this a “walking bankruptcy” because it’s a *major red flag* indicating you cannot manage your money and had to hire a third party to do it for you. Plus, you still owe the debt and are at a much greater risk of filing bankruptcy in the near future.

How will these negative credit entries affect you?

You will pay much more in fees and interest rates, if you are able to obtain credit at all, during the 4-7 years you are enrolled in your debt management program.

Who’s Hiding This Hurtful Half-Truth (Outright Lie) From You?

Credit counselors, your creditors & the credit reporting agencies are all in cahoots together. They all promote the half-truth that CCCS does not affect your credit score. The vast majority, including the credit reporting agency websites fail to mention the rest of the story.

While it is true that credit counseling has no affect on your credit score, that’s only half of the truth.

WHY?…

Because credit counseling has a major negative impact on your credit worthiness.

The Truth Regarding So-Called “Non-Profit” Credit Counselors

Don’t be fooled by the words “non-profit.” Claiming a debt management plan is “not-for-profit” is ridiculous, but it’s fooled many people into making poor money choices.

· The IRS has revoked the non-profit status of over 50% of the credit counseling industry in the past two years.

· The IRS is conducting an investigation of the entire industry!

Here’s the PROOF “they” don’t want you to see:

· Debt management programs were created by the credit card industry back in the 1950’s

· The credit industry lobbied congress to achieve their touted “non-profit” status for the debt management programs.

· They are really a collection arm for the credit card industry.

· Next to minimum payments on high interest credit card debt, Credit Counseling is how creditors make most of their profit!

· Their CEO’s are paid VERY WELL from the kick backs they receive (called “fair share”, usually 15% of all payments received by you) — from YOUR creditors!

· Plus, aren’t you paying a $35-85 monthly FEE?

How’s that a non-profit?

On top of these costs to you, many credit counselors ask their customers, who come to them deeply in debt, for a “donation” to their “non-profit” organization. Often, these agencies pressure their customers into making “regular donations.”

Is this acting in your best interest?

A Secret Credit Counselors Were Able To Hide For A Long Time

The goal of these programs is to:

· Fool consumers into paying back 100% of their balances PLUS interest when they’re in deep financial hardship, instead of filing bankruptcy or seeking debt settlement when such options may be much more appropriate.

A lot of profit has been made from these “non-profit” debt consolidation programs over the years. The banking and credit institutions, credit reporting agencies and those politically sensitive to these corporate lobbying giants all promote such debt management plans because that’s how they stay in business.

In 2004, PBS FRONTLINE and The New York Times produced “The Secret History of the Credit Card” and went on to win 2004-05 Grammy for Outstanding Investigative Journalism. (Google “The Secret History of the Credit Card” to watch this program for free online – great information you’ll wish you had known sooner if you’re dealing with credit card debt.)

Now the truth is out, but your creditors are still hoping you don’t find out…

Is There A Better Alternative Than Credit Counseling?

Now don’t get me wrong, debt management programs can be a great thing for certain people. Could credit counseling be the best option for you?

Sometimes, if a person cannot qualify for a better program to eliminate debt faster, at a lower cost and a lower payment with less credit damage, credit counseling may be best.

It may not be. I’ve helped many people get out of debt through credit counseling over the years, but only after they were educated on the all of their options, and the whole truth about each. I personally consider it unethical to promote a single solution instead of looking at an individual’s specific circumstances and situation to discover the exact solution best for them.

Share these facts with the people you know before someone else becomes another sad statistic!

Learn the difference between “credit rating” and “credit worthiness”, and learn how credit works so you can have it work for you.

Are you 100% certain Consumer Credit Counseling Services is the best option for you to get out of debt? If you want to get out of debt ASAP, then you should know other options are available.

Hi, I’m Jesse Niesen of DebtGOTOGuy.com, the Debt Relief Guide Online and the Debt Free ASAP Blogwhere you get Info, Answers, Tips & GUARANTEED Email Responses to Your Questions.

I’d like to give you Free Instant Access to my Debt Relief Guide Online, so you can make “your best choice” to be Debt Free ASAP.

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Credit Counselling Program: Can This Benefit You?

If you find yourself constantly living from paycheck to paycheck, you might want to consider a credit counseling program. A credit counseling program helps you develop a budget while managing your debt. For most of us, just keeping us with daily expenses is an ongoing effort. To manage this problem, we take out needless loans and use too many credit cards, and before you know it, we have a mountain of bills that can’t be paid.

Credit counselors and their services

Nonprofit credit counseling programs are the most common type of programs currently available to assist those who have gotten in over their heads with debt. Most will help you in a positive way to solve your debt problems. However, the nonprofit label for a credit counseling program doesn’t necessarily mean that its services will be free, cheap, or even legitimate. Some might charge hidden fees or expect unnecessary contributions that could plunge you further into debt. Be sure the company you are dealing with is reputable and has your best interests at heart.

Most credit counseling programs offer services through the Internet, local offices, or through telephone consultation. The most effective type of credit counseling program is one that offers in-person counseling. Try to get in-person counseling if possible. From your counseling, a good program will teach you how to manage your money and debts, develop a budget, and offer free workshops and educational materials. Counselors should be certified and trained in the areas of financial management. You should feel comfortable about discussing your personal financial matters with the counselor assigned to you.

Shopping around for a credit counseling program

Reputable credit counseling programs should be able to send you free information about their program, without the need to know any personal information about your financial situation. You should not work with a credit counseling program that will not provide this for you. Getting free information will enable you to select from a variety of programs to find the one that’s best for you. You can also do background research on credit counseling programs by seeing what your local consumer protection agency, attorney general, or Better Business Bureau has to say about them. If consumers have registered complaints about the credit counseling program, they might not be the best to use. Carefully consider any complaints you find, keeping in mind that some people are unreasonable or vindictive and not every complaint necessarily has validity. If the agency has a complaint, be sure to read their explanation of events to see what they claim occurred. Then decide if it makes sense to you to work with that company.

Questions to ask

After you narrow down which credit counseling programs you might like to use, you can make a final decision based on probing questions with which to “interview” the credit counseling program. They’re going to be asking you everything about your life, and you have the right to know all about them as a business too. A good question to ask is if agreements and price quotes can be made in writing. Formal written agreements and contracts can minimize confusion later on. Another good aspect to ask about is the qualifications of their counselors. Find out how they are trained or if they certified or accredited to help you with your problems.

What Advantage Credit Counseling Does

Advantage Credit Counseling Service (ACCS) is a nonprofit company that provides credit counseling, bankruptcy counseling, bankruptcy classes, debt management counseling, housing counseling, and online classes for consumers that are struggling with debt. Advantage Credit Counseling provides free, confidential, and professional credit counseling services, and has been doing so for more than 37 years. Advantage Credit Counseling makes potential customers feel at ease by letting them know that their company has helped many others before in similar situations.

Counseling sessions with Advantage Credit Counseling

Your counseling sessions with Advantage Credit Counseling include one-on-one work with a certified credit counselor. Your counselor will help you get a better understanding of your financial situation and help you put together options you have that can help you better manage your money. After asking a series of questions and assessing your monthly spending habits, the credit counselor will help you develop a balanced monthly spending plan. This is an important step in the process because it will give you more money to work with and help you restructure some of your debts. The counselor could refer you to a specific debt management program, or local, state, and national programs that you could use to your advantage.

Who they work with and what they can do for you

Advantage Credit Counseling works with people in all stages of financial trouble and economic level. Unlike other programs, Advantage Credit Counseling has no minimum debt level that you have to meet before you can use their programs. In fact, credit agencies usually look favorably upon consumers who use these programs early in their financial troubles. Get control of your finances and you will gain control of your life.

Debt Consolidation Credit Counseling

Do you need debt consolidation credit counseling? If you are deep in debt and headed for personal bankruptcy you might need to consider credit counseling.

Debt consolidation credit counseling is an important undertaking. Avoiding bankruptcy and keeping your credit record intact are two keys to financial success. You also need to know how to distinguish a good credit counseling agency from a bad one. There are many good credit counseling agencies out there but some are bad apples. It is important to understand how credit counseling can effect your credit report. Also be aware of a key change to the bankruptcy laws that involve credit counseling.

What is Debt Consolidation Credit Counseling?

Debt consolidation credit counseling agencies provide a service to people who are in over their heads in debt. Credit counseling agencies provide counselors, education, and Debt Management Plans (DMP). A Debt Management Plan is a service where consumers send an agency a lump sum payment which is then distributed to creditors who have agreed to the plan. Creditors sometimes agree to lower interest rates, waive fees, and post updates to credit reports as well. The convenience of making one payment to a single credit counseling agency is also a plus. The problem with Debt Management Plans is they only address unsecured debt. Secured debts such as home loans or auto loans should be prioritized and paid first. You risk losing your home through foreclosure and your car through repossession if you fail to make your payments.

How to Find a Good Debt Consolidation Credit Counseling Agency

A good credit counseling agency is one that offers an in-person consulting in your local area. Services beyond Debt Management Plans including personalized education are also good options to expect. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCA) and the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (AICCCA) are the key industry groups for credit counseling agencies to be members of. Ideally you want a counselor who will give you personal attention and present you with all of your options. You don’t want to feel pressured into a bad decision.

Some Debt Consolidation Credit Counseling is a Scam

With consumer debt at an all time high and federal personal bankruptcy laws requiring credit counseling many aggressive agencies have opened up shop targeting unsuspecting consumers in need. Non-profit credit counseling status does guarantee legitimacy or trustworthiness. In many states non-profit status is a requirement for a debt consolidation credit counseling agency to do business. Another caveat is that some not-for-profit credit counseling agencies are closely aligned with for profit businesses. Some debt consolidation credit counseling agencies charge excessive fees and only push DMPs. Asking good questions and referring to credit counseling agencies on the NFCA and AICCCA lists will help you sort the wheat from the chaff.

How Debt Consolidation Credit Counseling May Effect Your Credit Report

When you enter into a Debt Management Plan creditors will often make updates to your credit report. These updates include “re-aging” accounts and removing delinquent payment references. A potential drawback is that since lending is subjective, lenders may consider the notes your creditors put on your report as a good or bad sign. A good sign would be that you took steps through credit counseling to take care of your debts. A perceived bad sign would be that you had so much debt that it became unmanageable and you may be a credit risk. In the long term this may effect your credit score.

Debt Consolidation Credit Counseling and Personal Bankruptcy

If you decide that personal bankruptcy is the best course of action for your situation, you need to be aware of a key change to the bankruptcy laws. Before you can file for bankruptcy under either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 you need to know the law. Changes in the Federal bankruptcy laws brought about by the Bankruptcy Act of 2005 require folks to get credit counseling from a federally approved agency six months before they can take advantage of bankruptcy protection.